36-year-old Jesse Fisher (Josh Radnor) is a lecturer at a New York college, who returns to the town he studied in for his favorite professors retirement. While there he is introduce to Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen) a girl with views way beyond her years. With a nearly twenty-year gap between them, the two form a strong friendship that soon leads to something else. For Zibby this is a dream come true, for Jesse however a relationship with someone quite so young is the stuff of nightmares.
Rador directs and stars in this heartwarming comedy drama, his first feature since Happythankyoumoreplease a movie that bought the actor/director much acclaim. The path the story follows is very similar, in fact there seems to be a growing category for this sort of feel good “nothing much happened today” style movies. Like the aforementioned movie Liberal Arts is very much a dreamy, innocent, time passing movie; not much substance but it’s not an unpleasant place to be.
What really boosts the movie is the presence of the incredibly spiritual Nat (Zac Efron) who appears in an almost dream like series of scenarios, and despite his youth, his hippie styled ways, and spiritual mindset have an incredibly positive effect of Jesse, he shows him how to grow. The role, despite being brief, is by far the best suited, and considered performance of Efron’s career so far, who charms from the very second he first appears.
Liberal arts is a movie about growth and support, while Jesse is changing, he in turn changes those around him namely Zibby, and a troubled teen with a suicidal streak called Dean (John Magaro). While Jesse’s old professor Peter (Richard Jenkins) decides to take his own far lonelier journey.
Relatively new directing talent Radnor, gives the viewer an incredibly beautiful view of the world, with stunning locations, and a far more innocent feel to every single scene. Radnor has learned the talent that when making a movie that is on base level very bare, you can still sell the movie by making the viewer want to be part of the landscape he creates, whether its as a character in the movie, or just to soak up the beauty they inhabit.
Liberal Art’s is a touching, beautiful movie that will no doubt develop a quick cult following, its certainly a piece that will deserve repeat viewings.
Liberal Arts is in UK cinemas from 5th October.